The morning started with the girls ordering my breakfast of the previous day. These are the best and biggest damn French toast I have ever seen. The weather was clear and warm so we knew we were a go. After arriving at the seaplane base we packed up with ever conceivable piece of gear we thought we’d need including full wet and cold– all unnecessary as it was one of the most beautiful days we’d experienced since leaving Squamish.
A quick orientation about life jackets and an introduction to Steve our pilot found us down by the docks and boarding a 1957 deHavilland Beaver; one of the best bush planes ever produced and Canadian to boot. Another orientation about doors and life vests ( quite similar to the one you get on a 767, but oddly eerier on a 6 person, 50 year old float plane about to cross 90 miles of ocean.
The flight over was unremarkable except for the start when Steve tried to fly low over a channel to look for whales and flew straight into a cloud bank. As we were between two mountainous island s he had bank and climb rather drastically at 120 kits to get above the clouds for the rest of the trip: about 1200 feet until we approached Haida Gwaii (the new name for the Queen Charlottes for those who don’t know).
Our first approach to Skedans was aborted as the pilot tried to bring us in close but the water was too choppy. He added some throttle, pulled back on the stick and banked right to try again. 2nd try he landed farther in to the bay and we touched down smoothly.
Skedans is an old Haida village abandoned in the late 1800s after smallpox etc decimated most of the islands population. The Watchmen (native guides) gave us a tour and a handbook full of pictures from the 1880s that showed what the poles etc. Had looked like. They are pretty well gone now and another 10 or 15 years will probably remove the last traces.
We had about an hour and half there which was really not enough time to soak it in. But they limit the visitors to a max of twelve and there was a boat just coming in. Steve brought the plane back into shore and we climbed aboard the back of the floats and on board. Once agin we were into the air. These beavers have an amazingly short takeoff, which is what made them a great bush plane.
10 minutes later we circled in around Hot Spring Island (Gandll K’in Gwaay. Yaay ) and landed right in the cove. After we slid up on shore we grabbed out gear and hiked for about 10 minutes through rainforest until we reached the Watchmen’s cabin. He showed us the change room and left Les and I to change. Steve had to head back to the plane because the mooring was fouled with seaweed and Carmen hadn’t brought a suit (unfortunately there were signs against nude bathing).
The watchmen returned and showed us the 3 natural pools. The first was 105 to 107 degrees and we left it to last. The next was right by the ocean and we tried it second. It had the benefit of allowing you a dip in the cold sea between hot dips. I tried it but Leslie abstained. The third pool was up on the cliffs and afforded a spectacular view. We soaked here longest and enjoyed the scenery. The guide mentioned soaking her in the evenings and watching humpbacks breach.
Boiled and done we packed up and tromped back to the plane thought the woods. A beautiful experience.
The flight back was mostly at 100-200 ft over the waves. We didn’t see any whales unfortunately but it was a wondrous experience. As we approached the coastal islands the clouds formed again and we brought the plane back up to 1500 feet. A short time later we were over Prince Rupert and circling back over the seaplane cove. Steve dove on one of his fellow pilots trying to beet him to dock but the other fellow was already lower and dive as he might, Steve was beaten to the water.
A short cruise to the dock and we were all clambering ashore. We bid our pilot adieu and jumped in the truck to head for celebratory beer. It was a stunning day and the only thing that could of made it better was for it to have been longer. Dinner was at Breakers Pub, where L made the mistake of ordering the rock fish dinner special. It came to the table and was approximately the size of her torso.
At this point beer ensued with lime Mikes for Leslie. Carmen abstained. We took her temperature, but her nose was cold so we figured it must some sort of psychological aberration. After Leslie had done away with her mammoth fish, we crawled home to early bed and a quick shower.
Apparently Carmen also got up in the middle of the night to buy nail clippers but she didn’t die… At least afaik… I may have been traveling with a zombie all day… Can’t really tell…